It's Halloween. All Hallow's Eve. So, fittingly I have a list for you.
In the course of my life, I have experienced a wide range of feelings about this day. When I was a kid, it was one of the best days of the year. We would dress up, trick-or-treat and then have some kind of family activity as well: scary movies projected on a wall or sheet in our basement, games, candy-sort-and-trade, etc. One year my mom made me a Storm Trooper costume and it was seriously the best Halloween ever. It wasn't authentic and made of hard plastic or anything. It was cloth but sewn to look like the a bad guy soldier from "Star Wars". Then, she just bought an authentic mask for me to wear.
When I hit an age where it became immature to trick-or-treat, my friends and I would kind of dress up and then either cruise the local dances for girls, play hide-and-seek in a graveyard or terrorize our neighborhood with mischievous pranks. Why did we ever play hide-and-seek in a graveyard on Halloween, you say? Hell if I know.
Once I was in college, the "holiday" became just a night to get a date (group or otherwise), eat and watch a horror film. "The Shining" was a yearly requirement but others also were in the rotation: "Evil Dead 2," "Dead Alive," "Alien/Aliens," "Psycho" and, of course, "The Exorcist."
After I graduated from college, I began to hate this day more and more. It consisted of feeling obligated to dress up for work and feeling more obligated to go out to someone's boring party. Much like New Year's Eve, there seemed to be an underlying pressure to do SOMETHING fun. If I happened to be dating someone at the time, I would always try to convince the girl that a quiet night in watching a good scary movie was the best time we could possibly have. Often that worked.
Now I am married with kids. Halloween is more like it was when I was younger. I get to experience fears and wonders and excitement along with them. It's fun again and I don't take things so seriously anymore.
EXCEPT, I do take the following things very seriously:
1. Ghosts - Maybe it's because I know too many people that have seen them and/or felt them or maybe it's because I believe that we continue to exist even after our bodies die so it's logical they could be real. Whatever it is, the thought of having ghosts in my house or running into one on the street or in its dwelling really really freaks my sh-t. Like to the point of pants peeing. I often get chills when I am alone and climbing stairs late at night because I just know that if I slow down or turn around I will see, hear or be overtaken by one. I get honestly spooked when I hear ghost stories, see things out of my peripheral vision, listen to EVPs, or go to empty old buildings late at night. I try to avoid all opportunities to have one prove to me they exist.
2. Snakes - Evil looking, slithery, and often venomous. The creep-out factor on this one is high. I even startle when I chance upon one on TV while channel surfing. If I see just a flash of a rattlesnake or cobra coiled to strike ... GUH. I can probably tell you more about what snakes are venomous, where they are located and how many people die from bites than I can about the rules of the English language.
3. Japanese Horror Folklore - It's probably because of the first thing on this list that this topic gets to me. This is where my fear of ghosts gets life, so to speak, through books or film. American filmmakers haven't made too many decent ghost stories into a movies. Japan, however, exports a lot of crap-your-pants scary ghost movies year after year. Here's just a little info on Yūrei (Japanese ghosts) from Wikipedia for you to consider:
* White clothing - Yūrei are usually dressed in white, signifying the white burial kimono used in Edo period funeral rituals.
* Black hair - Hair for a yūrei is often long, black and disheveled ... Japanese women traditionally grew their hair long and wore it pinned up, and it was let down for the funeral and burial.
* Hands and feet - A yūrei's hands dangle lifelessly from the wrists, which are held outstretched with the elbows near the body. They typically lack legs and feet, floating in the air.
* Hitodama - Yūrei are frequently depicted as being accompanied by a pair of floating flames or will o' the wisps (Hitodama in Japanese) in eerie colors such as blue, green, or purple. These ghostly flames are separate parts of the ghost rather than independent spirits.
And so we see that an online people's encyclopedia has the power to educate as well as terrify. I now know to stay away from the movies that portray these Onryō Yūrei (Vengeful ghosts who come back from purgatory for a wrong done to them during their lifetime). I suggest others do the same.
4. Being Around Firearms - Whether they are loaded or not, being handled by a professional, or sitting on a table nearby minding their own business, firearms scare me. Too many accidents have happened to ever help me feel OK about being near them. Still, I have handled them in movies and with friends because I am a man and never want to be accused of being "weak."
5. Being called "Weak" - Just kidding.
5. Loss - My biggest fear is a common one, I think. I never ever want to lose anyone close to me ever again. My wife, my kids, my family, my friends. You are my life and losing someone is too hard for me to deal with. I know it's a selfish fear. Fear really isn't something that is considered noble or selfless. But I feel justified in this one. My life is only as good as the people in it.
What are some of your Halloween memories or fears?